Lez Plan a Wedding – Part I

I am flying back from one of the most beautiful, genuine, and enjoyable weddings that I have been to in quite some time. This wedding ceremony and reception was for my dear friend Ali (college roommate, friend, and field hockey teammate) and her long-time partner and love, Mike. The wedding took place in Connecticut, near the shore, against a stunning backdrop of water, clear skies, and a perfectly crisp fall evening.

Better yet, to celebrate this momentous occasion, many of our college friends were able to attend. Reunions like this are some of the best – we get to celebrate love while also feeling the love all around too. I laughed, danced, chatted, took photos, and felt an ease that is familiar when you are with people that you have known for a really long time. We cried happy tears when we saw Ali in her dress and celebrated when the announcement finally came: husband and wife!

As I fly back home to Denver and reflect on a weekend full of emotion, friends, and love, I cannot help but think about Chelsea and I, as we move forward and continue to plan for our own wedding in 2019. Sure, it is next year. And sure, it is not until August. However, for anyone that has planned something of this size, you know that logistics, details, and everything in between has to be discussed far in advance.

Chelsea and I have been engaged for a while – in many ways, this has made the engagement seasons have its own place (which I highly recommend). We did not jump into planning and dates and dresses. Yet, now that we have turned the corner of a double engagement, it is time to get to the books. And so, we have.

Chelsea and I have at least 10 excel sheets with information – everything from guest names, vendor ideas, budget items, and timelines that we have carefully curated from a variety of existing resources. What is unique, though, is that we are planning a wedding that does not fit a traditional mold. I mean, after all, we are two women and inherently, that creates difference (good difference, without question). Because of this, in many ways we are able to re-define how and what we do. And more than that, because there are few “models” for what an LGBTQ+ wedding entails, we are free to integrate old (or new) traditions as we wish and to re-think what a wedding even has to be. Let’s be real – that’s kind of awesome.

What exactly does that mean? Well, below are a few questions we have received here and there as we have jumped head-on into this adventure. This is only the beginning and I look forward to writing more about this journey of preparing for marriage and eventually, becoming Mrs. & Mrs. Oglesby.

Who asks who?

We had a double engagement. That means that we each proposed to one another at different times. However, for couples that are looking to get engaged, you can literally come up with any combination. Maybe only one person asks. Maybe both ask at the same time. Who knows! There are many variations and I think it is about what reflects the couple and what feels right.

Are you doing your bachelorette parties together? Your bridal shower?

When there are two brides, you have the opportunity to shift and explore distinctive ways to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. Chelsea and I decided early on that we did want to do a bridal shower together, however, we wanted to keep our bachelorette parties separate. We want the space to be with our friends separately while also joining together important women in our life, too. We look forward to planning these in the coming year.

Are you both wearing dresses?

Yes. Is it always that way for lesbians? No. Of course not. Anything we do is not necessarily the “lesbian way” to do it. Just like how opposite gender couples do not reflect ALL of that kind of relationship, the same goes for us too.

How in the world do you organize a bridal party?

Rule of thumb: invite the people you love to stand with you on your wedding day. Instead of thinking about bridal parties as composed of only a group of bridesmaids and a group of groomsmen, we see our bridal party as simply our bride tribe. The gender shouldn’t matter. For us, it doesn’t. We’ve chosen our most important friends – male and female – to stand with us during the ceremony and to dance with us afterwards. For us, this idea of community and inclusivity is what guides us.

Who walks you down the aisle?

Again, the important thing is that someone important, meaningful, and supportive is the person that escorts you into the ceremony. For Chelsea and me, this will be each of our dads.

We know that this is not always the case for couples – particularly LGBTQ+ couples that are not supported by their parents – and so another alternative is to walk each other down the aisle or to walk yourself, too. If there is a person that means that much to you, then of course, you can ask them as well.

What about the vows thing?

In addition to writing our own vows, we’re also planning to incorporate recited vows that we’ll say together. We like the idea of adding our own creativity while also making a sacred commitment.

However, LGBTQ+ couples can also use traditional liturgy – if they want. I think this is less common, but it does happen. Again, it’s about what feels right and reflects the sentiment and heart of the couple.

What do you do about non-affirming guests?

Ah, this is tricky. We are still diving into this, but Chelsea and I DO know that we want our day to feel full of love, acceptance, merriment, and joy. It will be absolutely essential for us to surround ourselves with people who love us for us. Should individuals feel uncomfortable attending a lesbian wedding, then it’s worth a conversation about whether to attend our not. We want a peaceful, blissful day, one that is not tainted with differing opinions, ideas, or thoughts about the sanctity of our relationship.

Do you have to follow all the typical wedding traditions or protocol?

So, while we’re early in the wedding planning process there are some traditions we already know that we will not be integrating into the ceremony or reception. These include the bouquet toss and garter toss. We don’t find these traditions to be particularly relevant – both from a gender and modern perspective. Also, we are definitely not planning a seating chart. The main reason we don’t want to do this? We feel like people should sit where they want to sit. We want our families and friends to feel open to connecting and meeting, and so a more fluid seating chart may help us get there.

However, there are some wonderful, traditional aspects of weddings that we plan on adding to our day. As we both have immensely important people that won’t be with us (i.e. some of our grandparents) we want to make sure we can honor their presence and influence on our lives. We’ll be having an empty chair and hopefully photographs in certain places to remind us of their life and memory. Additionally, we’ll absolutely be doing a first dance with one another and dancing with our dads. Both of these symbolic acts represent a transition in our lives and we feel that it’s important to call attention to. It might look different, but we are eager to explore the options that come with these acts.

Our wedding planning is really just beginning. To say that I am ecstatic is a major understatement. There is no other human that I would rather spend my life with. So, planning all of this with her is just a total bonus.

 

“the list”

Keepers of wisdom, knowledge, and experience have often given me the same piece of advice as I have journeyed along in life:

Know yourself enough to know what you desire in another human being.

Lately, I’ve been dreaming, thinking, and yearning for another person to share my life with. I know I’m not alone in this desire; however, saying this aloud is rather, well, new for me.

For a long time in my life, I thought that marriage was a farce. I suppose that’s being a bit harsh, however, divorce has surrounded my life and I never, never, never want to go through that again.

I am not embarrassed to admit that commitment has often freaked me out.

Eventually, though, my heart has softened towards the idea of a life-long partnership. I suppose falling in love helps the cause. Once you have a taste of what love looks, feels, and is like, it’s hard not to desire this as a forever-kind-of-thing. Moreover, I’ve tasted, literally so much beauty, adventure, and experiences in life – but have done so alone. Frankly, I want to keep exploring all that life has to offer; yet, what sweetness it would be to share this.

I don’t think relationships (or marriage) make us whole. Definitely not. I’ve lived long enough as a strong, single, independent woman to know that’s not true. I’m a Christian, too, which matters because I so happen to believe that my wholeness comes from a deeper purpose altogether. Still, I think God created community for a very particular reason.

Our lives are meant to be shared. Among friends, among families, and also between life partners.

I’ve halfheartedly tried dating websites. I have taken part in church groups, sports leagues, and young leaders’ networking groups in hopes of stumbling upon the right person at the right time.

Yet, I have had to return to the advice given to me by so many. I’ve had to do a lot of “inner work” so that I can actually have my eyes open to who I am, and in turn, what I want. Counseling has helped, but so has re-configuring my own goals, time, and priorities. Preparing oneself to adequately engage in any relationships takes a lot of work. I don’t think people talk about this very much – but I think it’s really, really important.

So, I recently made a list of qualities that I am looking for in another person.

That’s a fun exercise, if for nothing else to see what is important to you.If you have never done this, I encourage you to do so.

I included things like, “will challenge me” and “loves to travel” and also qualities such as, “hopeful” and “easy to talk to.” The list is yours. It’s about identifying the qualities, characteristics, and attitudes you desire in a partner. It’s not an inflexible check-list; I don’t expect that in order to spend my life with someone that they have to have every bullet point. But, it’s a good compass in a map of wonder, I think.

In addition to “the list”, I also wrote a poem. It’s about what I want in a person. What I hope for. What I pray for. In some weird tension of waiting and searching, I have my eyes open to whatever may come my way.

“What Is It That I Want”

Never ending maps as mere compasses illustrating our boundless exploration –

The freedom of the sunshine;

The liberation of the pen.

 

Stories are made and told;

Inspirations are defined as boldness is revealed.

You aren’t who I thought you were.

 

Creating of community sparks magic.

In wilderness, we go together and find treasured jewels.

Coffee lines our books and we ask,

“What are we all doing here?”

 

My dear, existential, lover, we share this.

Explore this, experience this, our eyes are

Open to the divine of it all.

 

Fear is quelled; kindness triumphs

And the possibility of a better society is

Allowed.

Envisioned.

Begun.

 

By our bootstraps, we pull up this kind of place –

We are the keepers, haven’t you heard?

Stewards in God’s delectable majesty.

Companions in the offerings of grace.

 

I dream for peace, for an unscalable love.

I imagine stories bursting forth from the rocks below –

 

Behold! A tapestry of hope.

Let us rejoice.